by Chris, the Impaler - 11/25/2005
While most of the American wagerarti spend the day after Thanksgiving scratching their heads wondering why they laid 28.5 points at the Home of the 12th Man; we turn our attentions to the Ocean State and another storied rivalry, the Brown Bears versus the Rhode Island Rams men's Varsity basketball. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Ryan Center and should feature solid defense, a bunch of missed three-pointers and good free throw shooting.
Ivy League play does not officially begin until January 7, 2006 so in the meantime we'll amuse ourselves by concentrating on Ivy League non-conference games. This holiday weekend the only other Ivy League basketball game is Harvard at Sacred Heart. Most shops aren't listing the game, but if you can find a line take Harvard to win by double digits. For my purposes, though, I'll look at the lone Ivy play on Saturday's card.
Brown Bears at RHODE ISLAND RAMS (-11)
The Rams (1-1) have been underwhelming in their first two games of the season without senior guard Dawan Robinson. In their first home win of the season they needed Jamaal Wise's blocked shot late in the game as Rhode Island squeaked by Sacred Heart (0-1) 56-50 last Saturday. The Rams held Sacred Heart's shooters to 18 percent and led by nine points in the first half, but almost lost the game in the second half due to slacking a bit on defense and missed opportunities. The Pioneers closed to four points in the final minute, but that was as close as they would get.
On Tuesday Jon Baron's Rams played better at the Jon M. Huntsman Center against Utah despite the 66-50 road loss. But the story for the Rams was solid defense responsible for nine turnovers in the first half which gave the Rams a 23-24 lead. The Rams couldn't sustain the pressure and allowed 43-points in the second half, ultimately losing by sixteen points against the Bogut-less Runnin' Utes.
The Rams (1-1) high scorers for the game were Jimmy Baron (16-points) and Will Daniels (11-points). Daniels put Rhode Island up 42-41 on a 3-pointer with about 9:40 to play, but led by Bryant Markson (17-points) the Utes went on an 11-0 tear and eventually won 50-66.
The Brown Bears opened their 100th season with a four game road trip. The road weary Bears look to end their four road games in eight days swing on a positive note. Their first loss was a 14 point decision against Northeastern in the Mohegan Sun Classic. Saturday they'll look to build on their ten point win at Hartford Wednesday. On the season the Bears should have a 3-1 record, but lost a game they should have won against Birmingham Southern 63-62.
In their last time out, the Bears defeated the Hawks of the University of Hartford behind the solid efforts of sophomore Damon Huffman (16-points) and freshman Scott Friske (12-points). They lead Brown to its first regular season, 70-60, over Hartford.
The Bears shot one free throw in the first half. The Bears rebounded well and pounded the ball inside while making 29 of 30 shots from behind the charity stripe in the second half. One sore spot was the poor 3-point shooting of the Bears who were 0-13 in three-point attempts. However, the Bears led the entire second half against the Hawks and their lead was never really challenged. The Bears largest lead of the game was a 54-41 in the second half.
It seems that Huffman has risen to the occasion so far this year and that is a good thing for HC Glen Miller's team. They won't have to rely on senior Ruscoe to carry the team like last year. They have no doubt been helped by Tri-captain and returning starter, junior, P.J. Flaherty, a 6-9 forward. Flaherty is an offensive threat inside and will look to have a strong inside game against the Rams. But this could prove a difficult task for the Bears who are still young and inexperienced when it comes to closing out games.
The Bears will need solid efforts again by Friske and Huffman for both halves against the Rams. They made a huge difference in the second half against the Hawks as Huffman scored 12 of his 16 points; Friske notched 10 of his 12 points. I look to Brown to continue a strategy that has worked for them on offense; pounding the ball to the big guys inside-especially since their three-point shooting is MIA until further notice, while taking a page out of defensive minded Baron's playbook and crashing the boards on defense.
On the other side of the court, the Rams held their own for one half against Utah and were not seriously challenged by Sacred Heart and almost lost! In short they have struggled against their opponents. The good news for the Rams is that they return senior guard Dawan Robinson, suspended from the team for two months (all of the preseason and the first two regular season games) after getting arrested on Sept. 24 for his involvement in a bar fight.
Last year's injury riddled Rhode Island won by ten points the last time the Rams hosted the Bears, but failed to cover the eleven point spread. In their last four games, the Bears have earned their backers' trust as they are 3-1 against the number, with the lone loss at Ryan in 2002. The Bears are 2-0 against the spread in the last two years as 11 and 9.5 point underdogs. Despite these trends I see Rhode Island building upon a strong first half at Utah. With a relentless defense, the Bear's inability to drop a three point shot and the return home to Ryan should help lift the healthy Rams to a straight up and against the spread victory.
PICK! Rhode Island -11 points for $330.
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The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks.